Laser Coating Removal – Phase II

NCMS Project #: 140394

Problem: Phase I results, documented in ARL Penn State Technical Report 05-003 “Integration of Laser Coating Removal for Helicopter Blade Refurbishment Phase I Final Test Report,” has resulted in a conditional approval of the laser coating removal process for the H-53E helicopter blade application.

The intent of the Phase II project is to deliver an automated system for blade stripping which will remove the operator from this demanding repair environment while improving refurbishment lead times, costs and reducing scrap rates.  Due to lack of remaining FY’05 funds, this effort is divided into Phases IIA and IIB.  Phase IIA covers the final design of the laser tool and installation of the first prototype on an existing robot at NUWC Keyport.  Phase IIB would support final design and delivery of the laser tool, acquisition and checkout of the Warner Robins ALC laser, procurement of the robotic system, testing at NUWC Keyport, and installation at Fleet Readiness Center (FRC) East.

Benefit: The qualitative benefits of the project to stakeholders and participants are considerable:

  • CTMA provides NCMS members with a test bed and access to innovative maintenance activity technology that cost effectively solves environmental, health and safety problems.
  • FRC East receives a cost-effective coating remover for test, evaluation, and eventual production use years ahead of the normal schedule for an innovative capital equipment item.
  • Sikorsky gains a technological advantage and ensures that they remain the leaders in commercial maintenance service for helicopter blade refurbishment.
  • NAVAIR, NAVSEA, AFRL and other interested DoD stakeholders will have operation and maintenance information to assess performance, feasibility, and cost effectiveness for related maintenance requirement.
  • REPTECH/ARL Penn State meets its goal of improving the quality and cost-effectiveness of maintenance efforts through alternative technology implementation at FRC East.
  • GLC obtains valuable information on laser technology applications and market needs.

The quantitative benefits are considerable.  The per unit repair cost would be reduced from $1,188.14 per blade to $222.53 per blade.  With a production rate of 940 blades per year, the Phase II system would generate a straight line payback of 1.54 years.

Solution/Approach: Installed a complete laser stripping unit at FRC East.  It is anticipated that other depots would acquire similar units after demonstrated successful results at FRC East.

Impact on Warfighter: Improved readiness of the helicopter fleet.

DOD Participation:

  • U.S. Navy (NUWC Keyport)
  • U.S. Navy (FRC East)
  • U.S. Air Force (AFRL)

Industry Participation:

  • General Lasertronics
  • Penn State ARL
  • Koops Engineering
  • Sikorsky Aircraft
  • NCMS

Final Report